Atari Flashback Classics review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PS Vita

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PS4, Xbox One, PS Vita
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Code Mystics
Medium: Digital/Cart
Players: 1-2
Online: No

Anyone who knows me should know that I am a Huge Atari Fan. I still own my original systems from the early ?80s and I do use them frequently. When I first heard of a collection of Atari games coming to next gen systems, I was skeptical, since I pretty much know these games inside and out. I can safely say this collection is good, but not without its faults.

There is a very bare bones presentation here with this collection. You do have a total of 150 different games, ranging from classic arcade games like Missile Command and Black Widow, to classic Atari 2600 games like Yars? revenge and Asteroids. Most of the games play just like their real life counterparts, with some adding extra ways to control certain games and giving you new ways to view the very dated graphics on these titles.

These extras are very limited, but do add a little something to the collection. I say that most of these games play like the originals, but there are few games that did not fare well during their HD revival. Most notably, are the games from the Atari 5200 system. Games like Missile Command, Millipede, and the Real Sports series all have graphical and technical glitches that can hamper the gameplay. It certainly is not the hardware that is affecting these titles, so this is definitely due to poor emulation. This only affects some of the games included, and are not game breaking, but It’s very odd that better care was not taken to iron out these issues before release.

Controlling a game is very simple, and this Switch version takes things one step further, by allowing vertical screen orientation while in handheld mode for Arcade titles like Centipede, so you can play them in their original format. Also, some games will feature touch screen controls like trackballs, and the ability to interact with the Atari 2600 console switches.

On the plus side, we get some nice ports of some Arcade games as well as some games that actually never were released back in the day. Some of these games were made as late as 2009 by talented programmers, while others were restored from lost and found betas. Games like Yars? Return, a sequel to the original Yars? Revenge, and the Atari 2600 version of Tempest that was finished but never released. These games are a nice touch, but I feel that more effort should have been used to license the more famous titles like the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man or the Atari 5200 version of Pole Position. Games like this are sadly missing, and may put off some players that were hoping to play their classic favorites.

Graphically, the games are presented in their original form. While some games have not aged too well, others remain timeless and look just like how you remember. The only difference is now the games are presented in HD, so you don’t have to squint through RF interference to play. Filters can be applied to make the games look more authentic, but they are not really needed as they don’t really make a huge difference. Sound effects are spot on, and really give you a sense of nostalgia, with the exception of some 5200 Games like Millipede where the sound doesn’t sound quite right. Again, this is due to the lack of knowledge of the system, or simply poor emulation, but overall doesn’t hurt the experience of playing these games.

Atari Flashback Classics is a decent release. Despite some small issues, it is a great way to experience the early days of video gaming. Some games may not appeal to you, while others will bring back great memories. I would have liked better emulation in some areas, and more licensed games but what we get for the price isn’t too bad at all. If you’re a fan of classic Atari, or just want to see where gaming basically began, they you should definitely check this collection out. It’s certainly not the best it could have been, but definitely not the worst classic game collection available. As a huge Atari fan, I would say it’s worth your time.

Note: Atari provided us with an Atari Flashback Classics Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B+